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Chapter 7

IDSA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Rockefeller Foundation, Modus Operandi, Venture Philanthropy

International Development Studies
Course Code
Leslie Chan

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Philantrocapitalism, Past and Present: The Rockefeller Foundation, The Gates
Foundation, and the Settings of the International/Global Health Agenda
By: Anne-Emanuelle Birn
-recent years the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has emerged this eras most
renowned, and arguably its most influential global health player
-Century ago—Rockefeller Foundation (RF)— likewise was founded by the richest most
ruthless and innovative capitalist of his day—was even more powerful international health
-Article reflects critically on the roots, exigencies and reach of global health philanthropy,
comparing the goals, paradigms, principles, modus operandi, and agenda-setting roles of
the Rockefeller and Gabs Foundations in historical contexts
-Proposes that the RF early 20th century initiatives had a greater bearing on international
health when the field was wide open—in a world order characterized by forceful European
and ascendant US imperialism—vs— GF’s current global health efforts amidst neoliberal
globalization and fading US hegemony
-Concludes that the GF pervasive influence is nonetheless of grave concern both to
democratic global health governance and to scientific independence—urges scientists to
play a role in the contesting and identifying alternatives to global health and
-almost century after the RF began to use John. D Rockefeller’s colossal oil profits, to stake
a preeminent role in shaping the institutions, ideologies, and practices of international
health ( as well as medicine, education, social sciences, agriculture and science)
-the BMGF has emerged as the current era’s most influential global health (and education,
development, and agriculture) agenda-setter
-Each of these two powerful foundations emerged at a critical juncture in the history of
international/global health
-Each was started by the richest, most ruthless and innovative capitalist of his day
-Rockefeller and Gates alike fended off public opprobrium for their cutthroat monopolistic
business practices, and both have been subject to uneven does of adulation ( ie on the
cover of Times magazine) and skepticism regarding their philanthropic motives
-Both foundations have focused on generating and applying new knowledge— One
appeared when the international health field was in gestation; the other as it faced midlife
-One sought to establish health cooperation as a legitimate sphere for
(inter)governmental action, creating, largely from scratch, the principles, practices, and
key institutions of the international health field
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